Oh, this is such a cheap gimmick. Yesterday I talk about how much I hate riding in the cold, and now today I’m talking about how much I like riding in the cold. Ooooh, what an interesting contradiction! Clearly, it’s Amateur Literary Trick day at the Fat Cyclist blog.
So let me explain.
I rode my bike home yesterday after work. It was no longer snowing, but there were very few cars out. It was incredibly quiet and dark out as I rode through Marymoor Park. Luckily, there wasn’t much snow sticking to the road, and I could avoid that by riding closer to the center of the road than usual.
It was quiet. It was dark. It was cold. And the air felt sharp and clean against the back of my throat; it tasted great.
As I rode up Inglewood Hill, I stood up, breathing hard. The fog from my mouth would go right into the beam of my handlebar-mounted lights, and make a really cool, brightly illuminated cloud. I found myself blowing out further out into the beam, experimenting with how impressive of a light show I could put on. And for the first time ever, I forgot that I was climbing Inglewood Hill.
I stand by what I said yesterday: it’s a pain to get ready to ride in the cold. Once you’re out, though, it can be fun. In fact, one of the most memorable rides I’ve ever been on was in the snow. Rick Maddox and I took part of a day off from work to go ride up Squaw Peak in the middle of the winter. This four mile road is a brutally steep road bike workout in the summer, but it’s a snowmobiler’s and sledder’s paradise in the winter.
So Rick and I decided to find out whether we could bike it.
By letting practically all the air out of our tires to increase the size of our contact patches, we were able to — mostly — ride up. The trick was to stay in the most recent snowmobile tracks. It was slow going, but we warmed up soon; riding a steep climb with no air pressure in soft-packed snow is quite a workout. About three miles up, we ran out of snowmobile tracks to follow. It was time to turn around.
And thus began the goofiest three-mile descent of our lives.
We experimented with putting our weight forward to give us better steering and keeping out weight back to avoid auguring in. I think we finally decided on a balance in the middle. It didn’t really matter; at pretty much every turn one or both of us would wipe out, often into the other.
The thing is, though, wiping out on a bike is a lot of fun when it’s penalty-free. The snow was so forgiving and banked so high we could practice our snow mountain biking skills without fear. We’d ride for a few seconds, fishtail around a corner (or, more accurately, failing to make it around a corner), and wipe out, often with a little flourish to make it look good.
As we got closer to the bottom of the hill, we started coming across kids and parents on sleds. They stared at us openly. What were mountain bikers doing coming down this hill? We were too strange to be real. Rick and I kept riding, laughing and wiping out.
PS: Let’s Outfit Tayfur and Friends
Tayfur, the winner of yesterday’s bike bag, lives in Turkey. He loves bikes as much as any of us, but doesn’t have a lot of good cycling clothes. He tells me, in fact, that he knows of quite a few riders in his area who could use some good cycling clothes. So how about we help Tayfur and friends out.
Let’s send Tayfur our good unused bike clothes — shorts, jerseys, jackets, vests, gloves, socks, you name it. He’ll take what fits him, and distribute what doesn’t. Everybody wins.
How to do it
Just email me. If you want to send your stuff direct, I’ll give you his address. If you want to combine your stuff with a big package I’m putting together, I’ll give you my address. To keep things from being too obvious and therefore getting “lost” in customs, Tayfur recommends we send relatively small boxes. So if you don’t mind sending stuff yourself, that’d be great. Meaning, I’m OK with some out-of-pocket here, but I don’t want this to clean me out.
I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of a bunch of these jerseys I don’t use finding their way onto some cyclists’ backs.